Controversial ‘big’ fishing bill hits Icelandic parliament

Johanna Sigurdardottir, the Prime Minister of Iceland, says that a statement from the finance ministry’s budgetary office criticising the new fishing quota bill does not stand up to scrutiny; adding that it is highly unusual for a division within one ministry to publicly criticise another ministry’s parliamentary bill.

Olof Nordal, the deputy Independence Party chairman, says that the office fears the new bill goes against the national constitution.

Jon Bjarnason, Minister of Fisheries, spoke out strongly in favour of his ministry’s fishing bill in Althingi yesterday. The bill has split MPs’ opinion, with some saying such changes are premature and others thankful that such changes are finally under discussion.

When asked why she is supporting a bill that potentially breaks the constitution, the Prime Minister responded that such claims do not stand up to scrutiny and that although they are political in nature, they were in fact written by an economist.

Among the provisions of the bill are increases to licensing fees to fishing companies and large changes to the very foundation of the way Iceland’s biggest industry is run and regulated. The parliamentary debate is expected to drag on somewhat.

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